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KIPP: Different Unionization Paths For KIPP NYC Schools [updated]

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Things are heating up on the KIPP unionization front:

At the KIPP AMP school, where a majority of teachers initially voted to join the union, a couple more teachers have joined Kashi Nelson in changing their minds -- but not enough to change the outcome of the vote.  (Others may follow.) The PERB meeting that was supposed to happen yesterday has been rescheduled.

Meanwhile, the teachers at the two already-unionized KIPP schools want to get out from under their UFT affiliation.  Click below for the announcement (and some additional background from Elizabeth Green).  

This is not apparently something that's coordinated or linked to KIPP AMP, though the timing is notable. No word yet from the UFT about these latest developments.

UPDATE:  Here's a feisty statement from Randi Weingarten, who sounds more than a little annoyed:  "Given that we have represented KIPP Academy since 1995 without any issues that would remotely rise to the level of dissatisfaction, much less disaffiliation, today’s announcement is surprising. Regardless, I welcome the opportunity to meet with the staffs at both Academy and Infinity, and find out what is going on." "What is interesting is this move comes after the KIPP AMP teachers started their organizing drive and on the eve of the PERB hearing on recognizing the union at KIPP AMP. KIPP management is obviously fighting hard because it doesn't want their schools to be unionized."


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
 

CONTACT: 

KIPP: Infinity (Manhattan)

Rachel Heuisler, Teacher  
Cell: 917-803-7655 
rachelchait@hotmail.com 

KIPP: Academy (Bronx)  
Matt Hureau, Teacher

Cell: 646-354-9865 
matthureau@gmail.com

 
From the Teachers of KIPP Academy and KIPP: Infinity 
 

On Wednesday, March 18, 2009, the teaching staffs of KIPP Academy Charter School in the Bronx, New York, and KIPP Infinity Charter School in Manhattan, submitted to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) official petitions for decertification of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) as our certified negotiating representative.  These petitions were signed and supported by every staff member at each school.  

It is with great consideration that we take this next step in the life of our schools.  We, the undersigned teaching staffs of KIPP Academy and KIPP: Infinity, feel the success we have attained to this point in our schools is largely because of the close relationship between all those interested in our students' well-being, from students to families to school staff.  While we have nominally been unionized, the collective bargaining agreement has never been a prominent factor in deciding what is best for our students, our team, and our family.  Rather, we solve problems using communication among staff members and working collaboratively with administration to best serve the needs of our students and families.  We have found that this method of problem solving has fit our situations well, and we plan to continue following this model of open, positive communication among students, families, and staff in the future.  

In recent months, the UFT has made clear its desire to play a more active part in the day-to-day operations of our schools.  Two examples illustrate this point.  In January, the UFT sent a letter to the KIPP: Infinity Board of Directors with the goal of beginning collective bargaining on teachers' behalf; the UFT neither consulted nor informed the staff of this request.  In addition, a union-initiated grievance has been filed against KIPP Academy without solicitation or support of staff.  It is our belief that the active presence of an external negotiating representative could compromise the strong environment of communication and collaboration that is integral to the success of our schools. 

We recognize and respect the historical value of labor unions to protect the rights of workers and ensure quality working conditions, and our decision to decertify the union as our negotiating representative is not a reflection of our feelings either toward unions as a whole, or toward the UFT in particular.  We also certainly understand the vital role labor unions have played, and continue to play, in supporting the interests of workers and facilitating communication between labor and management.    

With that said, we do not believe that one size fits all.  We firmly believe that the best way to move forward is to continue with what has made our schools great: parents, staff, and administration working cooperatively to teach character and academics in order to prepare our students for high school, college, and the world beyond.  We look forward to continuing to serve the students and families of New York City to the very best of our ability.  
 

Sincerely,  

KIPP Academy Staff         KIPP Infinity Staff  
 

GothamSchools background here
 

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